Last year alone the number of alcohol traffic fatalities dropped by 2.5 percent, now less than 10,000 each year. Despite this historic low, authorities say that they can do more. One of the ways that some departments might just do this is through a new device that is currently being developed by a researcher named Bud Zaouk in Boston.
The idea behind the project is to prevent intoxicated drivers from getting behind the wheel of a car in the first place. While one option that does this already exists, ignition interlock devices, there are weaknesses. For one thing, there’s no way to know that the person using the device is actually the driver. For another, the reading is only taken once, when the car is started which means it cannot prevent a driver from drinking while the car has already been started.
The new system, called Driver Alcohol Detection System (or DADS) is meant to overcome the flaws in the existing ignition interlock devices. The company behind the device, QinetiQ, has been given more than $10 million by federal and state agencies to develop the system. Major automakers have also chipped in money and the hope is that once the device is fully operational it can be incorporated into all newly manufactured vehicles.
The DADS system will be based on both breath and touch and will constantly monitor the alcohol content in the vehicle cabin’s air. The system has been designed with a sensor in the start button of the car that will emit an infrared light to “see” into a driver’s finger. The infrared light will be able to detect changes in a driver’s tissue that happen only once a driver has consumed more alcohol than is legally allowed.
The breath portion of the system will incorporate a sensor that has been placed near the steering wheel. The sensor will constantly scan the air for alcohol molecules. If either sensor detects the presence of alcohol the car will stop running, thus eliminating the danger of drunk drivers.
Though law enforcement officials think the system sounds like an amazing advance, some groups understandably object to the new device. One group in particular, the American Beverage Institute, has said the members it represents object to federal funding for the DADS system. The lobbying group says that existing measures are sufficient to stop drunk drivers and that innocent motorists should not be subject to round-the-clock monitoring.
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Source: “Alcohol detecting technology could save 10,000 a year from drunk-driving death: scientists,” by, published at NYDailyNews.com.